Telstar: The Joe Meek Story

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Telstar: The Joe Meek Story
UK cinema poster
Directed byNick Moran
Written byJames Hicks
Nick Moran
Produced byDavid Reid
Adam Bohling
Simon Jordan
StarringCon O'Neill
Kevin Spacey
Pam Ferris
JJ Feild
James Corden
Tom Burke
Ralf Little
Sid Mitchell
CinematographyPeter Wignall
Edited byAlex Marsh
Music byIlan Eshkeri, with songs by Joe Meek and others
Aspiration Films
Distributed byG2 Pictures
Release dates
  • October 25, 2008 (2008-10-25) (London Film Festival)
  • June 19, 2009 (2009-06-19) (United Kingdom)
Running time
119 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Budget£1.2 million

Telstar: The Joe Meek Story is a 2008 film adaptation of James Hicks' and Nick Moran's play Telstar, about record producer Joe Meek, which opened at the New Ambassadors Theatre in London's West End in June 2005.[1] The film is directed by Moran and stars Con O'Neill, who also played Joe Meek in the original play, while Kevin Spacey plays Meek's business partner, Major Wilfred Banks.


The film tells the story of record producer Joe Meek, the songwriter-producer behind the 1960s hits "Have I the Right?", "Just Like Eddie" and "Johnny Remember Me". The film charts Meek's initial success with the multi-million-selling record "Telstar"; his homosexuality, which was illegal in the UK at the time; and his struggles with debt, paranoia and depression, which culminated in the killing of his landlady Violet Shenton and himself, on 3 February 1967.[2]


Some of those portrayed in the film assisted with the production, or appeared in minor roles playing older characters alongside the actors portraying their younger selves. Singer Chas Hodges, who appears as Meek's enraged neighbour, complaining about the noise by banging a dustbin lid, recommended Carl Barât of the Libertines for the role of Gene Vincent, whilst Tornados drummer Clem Cattini appears in a scene as John Leyton's chauffeur and provided advice on set design. Leyton himself plays the fictional "Sir Edward", and singer-actor Jess Conrad plays pop manager Larry Parnes. Meek's young protégée, Patrick Pink (now known as Robbie Duke), appears as a stagehand.


After the premiere, Robbie Duke, formerly Patrick Pink, who had been Meek's young protégée and was present when Meek killed his landlady and himself, complained at how the filmmakers had portrayed his relationship with Joe Meek, suggesting that they had been lovers. He expressed his anger to the press,[3] and posted an open letter to the filmmakers on the Internet, where he demanded a public apology.[4] Similarly, the family of the late Heinz Burt also criticized the film for portraying him as Meek's lover, claiming that Heinz Burt did not have a close relationship with Meek, and was also not a homosexual as portrayed in the film.[5]

Critical reception[edit]

Siobhan Synnot of the Scotland on Sunday praised the film because it did not employ the usual "cinematic gloss". She opined that it begins with a humorous tone but transforms into a "harrowing film", adding that Telstar "knocks the wind out of the sails" of The Boat That Rocked in that the performances are "more substantial and engaged". Synnot concluded that "like Meek's records, Telstar is raw, fatalistic and somewhat crudely put together, but it also boasts both-barrels, mega-watt energy."[6] The Guardian reviewer called it "fascinating but patchy".[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Oberon Books: Telstar Archived 3 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 2012-08-11
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Jason Solomons (21 June 2009). "Telstar film review". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 December 2023.
  3. ^ Sunday Express, 7 June 2009: Joe Meek: Tragic demise of a gifted musical maverick Retrieved 2012-08-11
  4. ^ "Yahoo! Groups". Retrieved 25 May 2018.
  5. ^ Eaton, Duncan (19 June 2009). "Family's anger at Heinz Burt film's gay 'slur'". Southern Daily Echo. Newsquest. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  6. ^ Synnot, Siobhan (13 June 2009). "Film review: Telstar". Scotland on Sunday. Retrieved 12 February 2013.

External links[edit]